Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 July 2019

Emirati footballer sacked while training for National Service wins Dh565,000 in compensation

Club had no right to terminate player while he underwent mandatory National Service, court rules

An Emirati football player has won a case against a club that terminated his contract while he was undergoing National Service. Getty
An Emirati football player has won a case against a club that terminated his contract while he was undergoing National Service. Getty

A footballer sacked by the club he played for while he was in training for mandatory National Service has been awarded more than Dh500,000 in compensation.

The Emirati, in his twenties, signed a nine-month contract with the local club, based in the Northern Emirates, in September 2016, after having been enlisted for year-long National Service in January the same year.

According to UAE law, an employer cannot terminate a staff member during National Service Employers are also obliged to continue paying the conscript for the duration of their service.

The Emirati underwent military training in Abu Dhabi but travelled to the Northern Emirates to play for the club each week, court records revealed.

In October, the club held a month-long bootcamp for its players in Europe to train for a championship match but the Emirati footballer was unable to attend because conscripts are not allowed to leave the country during military service.

The club terminated his contract in November 2016, three months into the Emirati’s employment, and stopped paying him his monthly Dh60,000 salary, claiming he “did not fulfill the terms of the contract”.

The Emirati filed a lawsuit against the club with the UAE Sports Association’s arbitrary court, on May 28 last year, claiming Dh565,000 in damages. It is unclear why he waited a year to file the case.

He filed for Dh420,000 for the pay he was due between November 2016 and May 2017, Dh25,000 for his unpaid housing allowance, and Dh120,000 as compensation for illegally terminating his contract.

The club filed a countersuit claiming they were not aware the Emirati had enlisted for National Service when they employed him and that, had they known, they would not have signed him.

“Had we known he was doing his National Service we wouldn’t have hired him knowing that he will miss the entire season,” the clubs’ lawyer told The National.

In their lawsuit, the club requested the Emirati pay them Dh530,000 to compensate for the financial losses incurred by hiring him and then hiring his replacement. They also filed for Dh1 million for “moral losses”.

The club argued it had to rush a decision to employ a replacement player a day before the registration deadline for the championship league. The club’s lawyer said this compromised the team’s performance.

The Court of First Instance dismissed the counter-lawsuit because the club was late to pay the legal fees required for filing the claim. It only heard the Emirati’s case and granted him the Dh565,000 in compensation that he filed for.

The club appealed against the verdict, but it was rejected. The club appealed the initial ruling again, at the Court of Cassation, but the Cassation Court ordered the Court of First Instance hear the club’s counter-case.

After hearing both cases, the Court of First Instance, on Monday, again ruled in favour of the footballer and ordered the club to pay him Dh565,000.

The new ruling must now pass through the Court of Appeal and Court of Cassation again before it can be finalised.

On Wednesday, the club’s lawyer said it would appeal against the ruling.

“There were testimonies made during investigations that prove the player did not mention anything about his National Service during the signing of the contract. We will request a copy of the investigations’ report to be included in the case files,” the lawyer said.

Updated: July 10, 2019 06:41 PM

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